April 08, 2019

A Friend Like Iggy

Written by Kathryn Cole
Photographs by Ian Richards
Second Story Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-9
April 2019

For children, new experiences would seem to be the norm. Meeting new kids, the first day of school, doctors' visits and such can cause anxiety and fear but children often become acclimatized to such events. But there are some experiences which children should never have to face but do. Such would be the turmoil of dealing with abuse and all its psychological and legal ramifications. Thankfully there are facilitator dogs such as Iggy.
A friend who helps small people feel bigger and big worries feel smaller. (pg. 6)
From A Friend Like Iggy by Kathryn Cole, photographs by Ian Richards
From an initial visit to meet Iggy and his handler, Maggie, a child is able to be comforted by the big dog, a cross between a Labrador and Bernese Mountain Dog, while going through the arduous process of investigation, trauma assessment, therapy and court preparation. If the child is being questioned by police and doctors or receiving support from other relevant personnel, Iggy is there too.
Iggy always listened and let me know he was my friend–no matter what. (pg. 16)
From A Friend Like Iggy by Kathryn Cole, photographs by Ian Richards
But, most significantly, Iggy is there in court when the child has to face "the person I didn't want to see or talk in front of." (pg. 19) Iggy's comforting demeanour and proximity can make all the difference in enduring difficult circumstances. Even after the formal process of investigation is officially completed, the child can still connect with Iggy with a keepsake photo and following him on social media.
From A Friend Like Iggy by Kathryn Cole, photographs by Ian Richards
Iggy is an accredited facility dog working for the BARK Program of Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre. Both programs provide innovative and worthwhile support to children dealing with abuse investigations. In an integrated approach, Iggy and another dog, Jersey, in the Boost Accredited Reliable K9s (BARK) Program, provide invaluable support as detailed by Kathryn Cole's straightforward text in A Friend Like Iggy. She takes the perspective of a child–Boost services children ages 3 through 17–and does not discuss the abuse, only what the child experiences with Iggy. It's what children feel and know and is appropriately told in Comic Sans font. Ian Richards's uncomplicated but informative photographs document all aspects of a child's interactions with Iggy, placing emphasis on the relationship rather than the circumstances which brought them together. 

A Friend Like Iggy, like the dog himself, will reassure and support and should be in all school libraries, hospitals, police stations, and medical offices. It might prompt a child to reveal truths they have been reluctant to speak while reassure them that there is support once they have.

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